It could be the start of a rocky summer for the Chemainus sawmill and other Western Forest Products mills on the Island, as the current contract with United Steelworkers Local 1-1937 expires as of June 15. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Graveyard shift being axed at Chemainus sawmill

Western Forest Products move comes on the heels of current union contract’s expiration

The graveyard shift at Western Forest Products’ Chemainus sawmill is being eliminated until further notice at the conclusion of work Friday, June 14.

The move comes just as the current contract of United Steelworkers Local 1-1937 is due to expire Saturday, June 15.

The company announced June 6 that temporary production curtailments would be forthcoming at three of its sawmills – Duke Point, Chemainus and Saltair.

“These temporary curtailments are necessary to align production volumes to match current customer demand,” noted WFP director of communications Babita Khunkhun.

The WFP Saltair mill is shutting down for a week on June 24 and Duke Point in Nanaimo is shutting down for two weeks as of June 17.

“With regard to the Chemainus sawmill, we are reducing operating levels from 120 hours per week to 80 hours per week for an indefinite period, beginning June 17,” added Khunkhun.

“This means moving from operating three shifts per day to two shifts per day. We expect this reduction in hours will impact approximately 15 to 20 positions. We will be working to mitigate impacts on employees, including looking to fill vacancies at other facilities where opportunities exist.”

“The temporary production curtailments are necessary due to challenging market conditions,” noted Don Demens, WFP President and CEO. “The challenge of weak markets is compounded by the disproportionate impacts of softwood lumber duties on high value products, including Western Red Cedar.”

Negotiations toward a new contract with the union are ongoing while the potential for a strike looms.

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